Stand up, comics

Comics website The Nib is a platform for visual storytellers from around the world. Eleri Harris takes us through some of the year’s highlights.

With the mass closure of newspapers across the globe, it would be easy to consider the political cartoon under threat, if not facing extinction.

But it turns out the internet loves cartoons and a shift to online has enabled a wholesale reinvention of the form over the past decade.

At The Nib, an American-based comics website from First Look Media, we dish out topical political cartoons, gags and longer nonfiction comics every week day. The latter is a rapidly evolving way of telling stories, almost entirely developed for online audiences.

Readers might think of the Australian artist Sam Wallman, who has been nominated for three Walkley awards for his pieces covering abuse in our detention centres, the demise of the auto industry and refugees in Europe.

Wallman’s work for The Nib this year included an in depth look at the minimum wage. While his style and storytelling are unique to him, the form in which Wallman works is a growing international medium, constantly gaining in popularity.

Credit: “If They Could Pay Us Less They Would” by Sam Wallman.

Our most popular piece this year was not a traditional one panel cartoon, it was a longer look at fascism by American artist Maia Kobabe.

Strength Through Unity: How To Spot Fascism Before It’s Too Late” by Maia Kobabe.

If you’re looking at personal essay style comic drawing, you can’t go past Mike Dawson, whose work sits in an uncomfortable zone between fact and fiction.

Credit: “Color Blind” by Mike Dawson.

Fellow Australian Kate Moon examined the plight of detained cartoonist Eaten Fish, stuck in limbo on Manus Island, in a highly stylized piece of comics journalism.

Free Eaten Fish” by Kate Moon.

At The Nib, we’ve also used the form to engage in conversations about a number of topical issues from sexual politics to racism. In April, a group of African American cartoonists discussed the impact of the Trump presidency on them.

Revolution in Our Lifetime: Black Cartoonists on Life Under Trump”, this image by Ben Passmore.

We also published our first serialised long form piece, which I wrote and drew, about the family of convicted Tasmanian murderer Sue Neill Fraser.

Reported Missing” series by Eleri Harris.

Eleri Harris is a cartoonist and deputy editor of The Nib, thenib.com.

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